Boston clouded in anxiousness day after bomb attacks on marathon
By Jeremy Boren
Published: Wednesday, April 17, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
BOSTON — Normal workdays in Boston's Back Bay section bring expensive cars through streets and white-collar professionals buzzing around an area dotted with hotels and corporate headquarters.
But a day after twin blasts at the Boston Marathon killed three people and wounded more than 170, a somber and uneasy mood settled into the city. Heavily armored vehicles and 1,500 members of the National Guard staked out every corner of the sprawling crime scene around the race's finish line.
“You can feel everybody's on edge,” said James Traer, 29, of Cambridge, a researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “It's a big psychological blow.”
The bombs were crudely fashioned from pressure cookers packed with metal shards, nails and ball bearings, and were stuffed into duffel bags, a person briefed on the investigation said Tuesday. Details emerged as investigators appealed to the public for amateur videos and photos that might yield clues to who carried out the attack.
President Obama branded the attack an act of terrorism, whether by a solo bomber or a group, and the FBI vowed to “go to the ends of the Earth” to determine which it was.
Scores of victims remained hospitalized, many with grievous injuries. A 9-year-old girl and 10-year-old boy were among 17 victims listed in critical condition.
Impromptu vigils drew crowds to the site in the early evening, and bouquets of flowers began to pile up against metal fencing that separated mourners from the soldiers and officers.
“I don't think my friend and I slept at all last night,” said marathon runner Kaitlyn Kacsuta, 45, of Pittsburgh's Bon Air neighborhood.
She heard the explosion while changing clothes in a building near the finish line.
“I missed it by 10 or 15 minutes, maybe,” said Kacsuta, an ultramarathon runner who finished in 3:25.
Jeremiah Wagner, 35, of Ligonier, a father of two and program director at the Ligonier YMCA, said he was much closer to the ensuing carnage, which took the life of Martin Richard, 8, of Dorchester, Mass., Krystle Campbell, 29, of Medford, Mass., and a Boston University grad student whose name the school withheld pending permission from the student's family.
Wagner heard the explosions shortly after he left a medical tent, where he was treated for dehydration upon finishing.
“Right when I gave my wife and children a hug, there were the explosions to the side of us,” Wagner said. “I was right there before a wave of victims came in. That's what is really getting to me.”
The site around the finish line looked much as it did on the race day — a ghost-town version, that is — as investigators tried to preserve and examine evidence.
Hundreds of cone-shaped paper cups that runners used for water swirled across wind-swept streets. Canopies advertising Adidas, Nike and other brands began tearing away from their moorings.
Wheelchairs sat crowded between police sawhorses near the medical tent. Metal fencing and portable toilets lined many streets along the race course.
Hundreds of runners milled through Back Bay. Many wore their blue-and-yellow Boston Marathon jerseys and race-day medals, making them easy to spot for a throng of camera- and microphone-toting reporters representing TV stations from as far away as Mexico, Japan and China.
Some runners sat quietly. Others sobbed into cell phones.
Runner Bill Burns, 55, of Moorehead, Minn., said there's little anyone can do to prevent attacks on huge races other than cancel them.
He and his wife, Michele, had planned to build a quick vacation around the race, including taking in a Boston Celtics basketball game, but it was canceled.
“It's surreal today,” Burns said as the couple sat on a concrete bench. “This is not a day we'll forget.”
Nor will authorities, said Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., who chairs the Homeland Security subcommittee on counterterrorism and intelligence. He said via Twitter that the United States will not be deterred by terrorism and vowed to “hunt down” and bring the attackers to justice.
“We must ensure that those responsible for this act of terror are brought to swift justice,” said Sen. Bob Casey Jr., D-Scranton.
“We will go to the ends of the Earth to identify the subject or subjects who are responsible for this despicable crime, and we will do everything we can to bring them to justice,” said Richard DesLauriers, FBI agent-in-charge in Boston.
Former CIA Director Michael Hayden said his best advice for organizers and participants in the upcoming Pittsburgh Marathon is a combination of British and American sentiments: “The Brits say, ‘Keep calm and carry on,' and we Americans are fond of saying, ‘If you see something, say something,' ” Hayden said. “Both should be applied in equal measure to runners, organizers and spectators alike for the event.”
Hayden, who has run the Pittsburgh Marathon three times, did not train to run it this year. “It's hard to find the time,” he said.
Mark Courtney, 57, of Grove City ran his 34th Boston Marathon on Monday and will not hesitate to return in 2014.
“They'll rebound. They've done everything appropriately,” said Courtney, a physician's assistant. “Boston is Boston.”
Staff writers Andrew Conte and Salena Zito and The Associated Press contributed. Jeremy Boren is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7935 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Likely $2.3B influx puts PennDOT big-ticket road projects in play
- Man shot by Pennsylvania state police at Pittsburgh International Airport was key witness in Massachusetts murder trial
- Pa. child abuse statutes faulted as too narrow
- Result hazy as historic-building vote nears
- Hill District nonprofit’s finances are taking another dive
- Newsmaker: José M.F. Moura
- Baldwin-Whitehall board hits ‘magical line of dissatisfaction’
- Civil justice system discourages transparency, experts say
- American soldier charged in Iraq killings of deaf, unarmed teens
- Natural history museum in the red
- Newsmaker: Mary C. Burke